What is saturation? Simply put, saturation is the level of color in a color. What? Let’s say you have the color blue. If the color blue is 100% it is fully saturated. As you start to decrease the color blue to 90%, 80%, 70% and so on it becomes less saturated.
Another way of thinking of it is visually. If I have a blue that is 100% color blue it shows as a bright pure blue. As I add the color orange to it will become less blue. Why orange?
Orange is the secondary color that is opposite of blue, a primary color, on a color wheel. So, the more orange I add to the blue the less blue it becomes. It’s still blue, just not as blue. The blue becomes duller in intensity. The color looks softer.
How does this help in photography or interior decorating/design? Well, In nature fully saturated colors are almost impossible. When you are mixing and matching photographs, paintings, pictures and the colors painted on a wall this is worth remembering depending if a natural look in terms of color, or an unnatural look, if desired.
Some of you are saying, “ I’ve seen fully saturated colors in photographs.” Well, yes and no. Assuming that the photographer did not alter the photo and that it is natural, you can get a very high level of saturation. But it still is, technically, not 100% saturated. Our eyes perceive it to be saturated but remember a computer can tell a .1% difference in color but can your eye cannot Also, this degree of saturation depends on exterior forces such as the amount of light, the source, and even the time of day.
One way that you can control the saturation in a picture is to use colored filters. These are either a glass filter you can place on your lens or a piece of plastic wrapped around your flash if you are in a studio. A large following of photographers prefer to use this method, while others still prefer to use post production methods such as Photoshop to make these changes. Either way, you can get nice vibrant in your face photographs, or the dreamy, soft variety. The choice is yours.
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